Writers that Changed My Life

Have you ever read a book or website that has completely changed your way of thinking?  I was thinking about this as I was reading the book “Good Calories Bad Calories, Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control and Disease”.  Although I am not finished it yet, I have found it very engrossing as it challenges the majority of nutrition wisdom around low fat/low calorie/low cholesterol eating that North American health professionals adopted as gospel in the 1950s and have carried on to today.  Although not necessarily a “game-changer” this book definitely has got me thinking about why I eat the way I do.  Although there are many more people than I am going to list below, I thought I would highlight a few writers that have inspired me, personal finance-wise.

When I first graduated from University, seven years ago I had very little knowledge about money and what I should do with money.  I had a bunch of student debt a decent paying job and really no plan.  Enter The Wealthy Barber – for someone who had no plans or aspirations, the easy to read and understand story told gave me money goals and aspirations to strive for.  I gained a basic level of personal finance knowledge that I followed over the next five years, where I paid off my student loans (approximately $25,000 worth), bought a car with cash (for which I got a lot of comments like “it must be nice to have that kind of money laying around”) and religiously saved 10% of my pay for the future.  I will forever be grateful to David Chilton (the author) for writing this book.  I own it, I bought my 21 year old sister a copy of it when she graduated from college (hoping she might have the same type of reaction as I did) and would tell anyone who needs a plan to read this book.

I followed the advice for several years, basically planning on leaving the workforce at around 55 or 60 like most people.  About two or three years ago, I picked up a copy of Derek Foster’s “Stop Working, Here’s How You Can”.  Although I don’t necessarily agree with the author essentially bailing on his iron-clad investment tactic in what seems a fit of panic during the economic downturn (when I believe his book states to look for these opportunities to boost your portfolio) in general his book changed my whole thinking on retirement.  He offered a plan that would that would allow me to retire in around 12 years.  For someone with around 40 years of work ahead of them, cutting that down by 75% is very attractive.  I understand the riskiness of living on just the dividends from stocks promoted by his book, but there is a certain level of hopefulness offered by this book that gave me hope.

The final author, which eventually lead me to this site (it’s listed in his blogroll) is Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme. This author offers a method of leaving the workforce in around five years.  I read every post he had on his site over a two or three day period – eating up what he was saying as it made sense to me.  Although I don’t know if my spouse and I could live on $10,000 to $15,000 per year, he provides a method of doing so and has proven that it is not only doable (he did it himself) but enjoyable to be retired in your early 30s.  Although I have gravitated more towards Tim’s site and his more “moderate” stance on early retirement, striving to copy Jacob’s method and discipline may shave a couple of years off of my retirement date.

So, these are the people that have lead me on my current financial path.  Do you have any writers that have inspired you financially (or otherwise)?

19 thoughts on “Writers that Changed My Life”

  1. @ dlm – it has definitely changed the way I look at the “advice” being given by various sources and gets me questioning what I should be eating to optimize my diet.

  2. When I was reading the beginning of the article I was thinking that it is Jacob for me too. I found this site through early retirement extreme.

  3. I vividly remember reading Chilton’s book. My brother and I swapped it back and forth and gobbled it up. There’s something about that little gem that hits home. I always associate the 10% rule with him.

    If you’re into the Early Retirement Extreme strategy (I’ve also visited the site and I find it kinda cool), another crazy cat who takes frugal living to the extreme is Alan Corey, author of ‘Million Bucks by 30’. It’s a hilarious account of a guy who made his way to financial freedom by 30 years of age through frugal living and real estate (I also did a review way back..early archives if you’re interested) and you can probably pick up a copy for dirt cheap or at a local library.

    Nice thread. Keep up the good work.

  4. A few books have completely changed my life.

    Faith: A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
    Finance: The Wealthy Barber
    Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Author)

    And of course this blog! 🙂

  5. It sounds like you might also like _Your Money or Your Life_, a nine-step plan to financial freedom which includes some of the steps you already know about but has more of a focus on what your actual values are.

    I also quite like the _Tightwad Gazette_. It’s extreme (compared to average Americans) like Jacob, but with a focus on frugality. There are loads of tips but, more importantly, lessons on how to create tips that are right for you. For example, the author spent less than average on clothing, food, and entertainment so that she could spend more than average on housing and so they could afford lots of kids and so that only one parent would have to work. Your priorities will likely be different, but you can still find lots of ways to work toward them by reading this book.

  6. It’s interesting to read everyone’s books… I have to admit I haven’t heard of some of these, but I’ll take a few moments on Amazon tonight to take a look… although I’m not much of a book reader.

  7. @ The Rat: I’ll have to check that one out. Another book (which I forget the name of) was about a guy who started with nothing and by the end of a year working unskilled jobs he was able to have an apartment, truck and some money in the bank – less impressive in a way, but at the same time very inspiring.

    @ Debbie M – I have read Your Money or Your life, it’s the kind of book that I wish I would have read about 10 years ago while I was spending too much money while in school rather than a couple of years ago when I was already in my current mindset around money.

  8. @ Dave,

    I think you are thinking of: Scratch Beginnings” by Adam Shephard.

    @ Everyone,

    I would have to say The Wealthy Barber was my first PF book I recall reading. It had a huge impact on me starting out.

    I also have a soft spot for Stop Working – Start Living had a huge influence on my life as it was the first book that showed me a very early retirement story. It basically inspired my dream of free at 45.


  9. Funny, I have a very similar experience. The 1st real eye opener for me was The Wealthy Barber and – like you – Foster’s first book turned around my idea about investing. No mutuals any more, just dividend growth stocks with long histories of raising dividends that make stuff we need and buy everyday.

  10. @ Canadian Money – I’m not sure how flawed it actually was. He states in his books at various times that what happened during the market meltdown would have been a great buying opportunity (which it would have been) – instead he sold at market lows in the spring of 2009 just as the turnaround was happening.

    @ Jeroen – I think that Foster’s method has merit – I would probably insure some of my capital with some sort of option rather than have something happen like a couple of years ago.

  11. Good posting! “The Wealthy Barber” & “Stop Working, Here’s How You Can” were also the most influential books I read on investing. Unfortunately, Chilton’s book didn’t come out until I was in my 30’s but better late than never! That was the beginning of my investing life. Foster’s book was much later but it opened my eyes’s on investing for dividend growth and doing it myself. Shortly after I read “Stop Working” I let my financial advisor go and have been going alone. I’ve never been happier!

  12. @Canadian Money: Foster’s eventual problems were not because he was a ‘buy and hold’ investor.

    Most of his problem was Asset Allocation. Foster’s whole portfolio (100%!) was in equities, and a large % of them were primarily in income trusts.

    Had he made some changes before the meltdown, we would likely not have heard the stories of him selling his whole portfolio.

    A lot of successful investors have retired on buy & hold strategies.

  13. As well as Gary Taubes, see Protein Power by Michael Eades (and his blog Health and Nutrition), and Richard K. Bernstein’s Diabetic Doctor’s Diabetes Solution. Carbs raise insulin, insulin stores fat and causes diabetes; low carb cures diabetes and obesity. Who knew saturated fat is good for humans!

  14. Writers that changed my life?

    Earnest Hemmingway (Oldman and the Sea)
    JRR Tolkein (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit)
    Garrett Mattingly (The Armada)
    Eli Wiesel (Night)

    I love personal finance but so far no book has changed my view of life like these 4 have.

Comments are closed.